FULL UPDATE 12:30 a.m. [Jay]
The Indians reportedly have acquired top Ubaldo Jimenez from the Colorado Rockies, in exchange for their best two pitching prospects — LHP Drew Pomeranz and RHP Alex White — as well as RHP prospect Joe Gardner and minor league OF Matt McBride.
Jimenez was the top starter available on the trade market, and this move is, by far, the biggest deal of a busy trade season for the Indians — arguably the biggest move made by any team. Late Saturday night, the Indians officially announced the trade of IF Orlando Cabrera to the Giants for power-challenged OF prospect Thomas Neal. The Indians acquired OF Kosuke Fukudome from the Cubs on Thursday, and reportedly remain in the hunt for Ryan Ludwick as the 4 p.m. Sunday non-waiver trade deadline fast approaches.
Jimenez will be examined by Indians club physicians Sunday morning, and the trade is contingent on his passing that physical. Per club policy, the Indians have not announced the Jimenez and will not comment on it until and unless it becomes official. Pomeranz will be announced as a "Player To Be Named Later" in the deal, as minor leaguers cannot be traded until the first anniversary of their signing, which in his case is August 15.
Jimenez will be under contract to the Indians through the 2013 season on a very club-friendly deal. He'll make about 900K for the rest of 2011, $4.2 million in 2012, and $5.75 million on a club option in 2013. There is also a club option for 2014, but it essentially converts to a mutual option in the event of a trade. Jimenez led all NL pitchers in WAR last season, when he finished 3rd in Cy Young voting, and he's 10th among all pitchers in WAR since the start of 2009.
Jimenez struggled early this season with reduced velocity and a minor thumb injury, but the thumb injury healed, and his velocity reduction has gone from 3 mph to more like 1.7 mph. Somewhat unusually, Jimenez took the mound Saturday night despite strong indications that a deal was imminent. He pitched poorly, evidently highly distracted by the trade talks, and was pulled after one inning and just 45 pitches. He likely will start for the Indians on Tuesday or Wednesday.
Pomeranz, 22, was the #5 overall pick in the 2010 draft and made an impressive pro debut this season, moving from a Top 100 consensus ranking to a Top 20-40 guy. He ends his career in the Indians organization with a 1.98, 112 strikeouts and 38 walks over 18 starts.
White, who will soon turn 23, was the Indians' first round draft pick a year earlier, in 2009, and was almost as impressive as Pomeranz in his 2010 pro debut, also for Kinston and Akron. Pegged by at least some Indians officials as a pitcher likely to end up in the bullpen, he started 17 games and posted a 2.45 ERA over 150+ innings, with 117 strikeouts and 46 walks. While the peripherals weren't impressive, he started 2011 on a roll in Columbus and made his big-league debut for the Indians on April 30. Just 2.5 quality starts later, however, he landed on the disabled list with a sprained middle finger, and he was set to make his first rehab start for Akron later today (Sunday).
Gardner put up an impressive season for Kinston at age 22 last year, although again, the peripherals (104 K, 51 BB) did not live up to the ERA (2.65), and he's failed to carry his success to Akron this season (4.99 ERA, 60 K, 47 BB, 97 IP). Although Gardner made several Top 10 Indians prospect lists over the winter, he now looks like a reach to get to the majors even as a middle reliever.
McBride, 26, is an outfielder.